August 2, 2005 7:31 AM PDT

SourceLabs sees green in grassroots Java

SourceLabs is taking the road less traveled to open-source Java.

The Seattle-based start-up on Tuesday plans to make available a free download of open-source tools that have gained a grassroots following among Java developers and to sell support and maintenance services.

The company coined the term "SASH" to denote the components: Apache Struts, Apache Axis , the Spring Framework and Hibernate.

These development tools, or frameworks, are designed to speed the creation of Java applications and have garnered widespread use even though no single large vendor developed and marketed them.

SourceLabs offers subscription-based support and certification services for open-source products to large corporations. The company, launched last year with the aid of former Microsoft executive Brad Silverberg, introduced its first service offering around the so-called AMP stack (Apache Web server, MySQL database and PHP development language).

With the Java offering, SourceLabs is betting there is a substantial market of corporate customers that use the SASH open-source tools in various combinations.

"We decided for the first time to identify the stack, start integrating the pieces, and start testing the components together so customers can have assurance (of support) when using the stack," SourceLabs CEO Byron Sebastian said.

SourceLabs will create a single download of the components, which are freely available, and provide customers with a single destination for ongoing support.

There are already companies that offer support services around Java application servers, notably JBoss and IBM, which acquired Gluecode in May.

However, after interviewing people at large corporations that use Java, Sebastian decided instead to focus on the SASH open-source components, some of which have become de facto standards.

"We noticed these four components were mentioned in combination over and over again," Sebastian said. "The open-source development world has converged around a set of open-source components that the Java community (standards process) has missed out on."

Open-source Java components are indeed gaining more industry support.

At JavaOne in June, for example, BEA Systems said that it would modify its programming tool and application server to allow Java developers to use Apache Struts and the Spring Framework.

Apache Struts is used to hasten development of Web applications, and Spring is designed to simplify creation of server-side Java programs. Hibernate, meanwhile, is for writing Java programs that tap into databases, and Apache Axis is a tool for building applications that use Web services protocols.

In conjunction with the SASH service offering, SourceLabs has created partnerships with two companies that provide their own technical support services--WSO2, which develops the Apache Axis Web services framework, and Interface 21, which developed the Spring Framework.

The partnerships are intended to assure potential customers that SourceLabs has sufficient technical expertise in the products, Sebastian said.

Meanwhile, SourceLabs competitor SpikeSource has filled out its own product portfolio.

The company on Monday introduced a service offering focused on an open-source stack, or combination, that includes options for Red Hat Linux Enterprise version 4, Suse Linux Professional 9.2 and the PostgreSQL open-source database. Customers can create "made to order" combinations of open-source products and get ongoing support from SpikeSource, according to the company.

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Hooray to Source Labs
Source Labs is doing the right thing by supporting these open source products. This is world class software, and there's no reason not to use it.

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